No compromising on value

BY Costa Mouzouris. Oct 07 04:00 am

It’s a shame that if you have a young family and are looking for a practical set of wheels, you probably have to make some concessions, especially when it comes to having fun behind the wheel. Basically, if you need a vehicle that will carry your brood to and from hockey practice or school, you pretty much have to forfeit corner-carving agility in favour of cargo and passenger capacity.

Unfortunately, one of the things you’ve got to give up in the 2016 Honda Pilot is an engaging driving experience. But here’s what you don’t give up: Comfort, safety, space, efficiency and good value.

Honda redesigned the Pilot for 2016, giving it a more streamlined and less utilitarian appearance than the previous generation, while shaving 113 kilograms from the top-of-the-line Touring model we drove ($52,670 as tested). Its shapelier silhouette, however, has probably soaked up some interior space.

Despite boasting a 4.5-centimetre longer wheelbase, interior volume is up only 11 litres.

Still, the cabin feels roomier for the front passengers, mostly thanks to a redesigned dashboard that is shorter top to bottom and provides more knee room.

Within the new dash, you’ll find a large central touch screen that you have to access for any function other than the climate control system, which has its own set of manual controls. In Honda’s quest to reduce dashboard clutter, even simple controls such as the volume for the sound system have been moved within the touch screen — my least-liked feature. It’s especially annoying that just returning to a previous screen requires scrolling through several menus.

But the centre console is narrower and sits lower, contributing to a more spacious feel while still containing a large concealed storage space. Cargo storage with the third-row seats folded down is average for the class, at almost 1,560 litres, and if a family camping trip requires even more cargo, the Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) when equipped with the optional $1,566 towing package.

With the Touring trim level, emphasis is on passenger comfort, so it’s the only Pilot variation that seats seven instead of eight.

In the second row, you’ll find individual seats with folding armrests and a centre console with a pair of cup holders, instead of the other models’ bench.